Interview with Fashion Designer Jay Kos
Jay Kos (jaykos.com) (@jaykosworldwide) is a men’s fashion designer who started on the Upper East Side 26 years ago. From the opening of his first store on 72nd Lexington and later 57th and Park — before moving downtown — he sold to the biggest people in hip-hop, actors and billionaires, to princes and vice presidents.
His aesthetic, although always evolving, comes from a philosophy of the best quality in every category, paired with classic designs and always adding an edge with color, texture, fabric, and skins.
His client is and has always been from rapper to CEO to rock star.
Q: What are your influences? From a fashion perspective and also an artistic perspective? What’s your background?
I’m influenced by everything around me: from food to travel to family to motorcycles. I’m a creative junkie, and all of those things constantly make my mind dream, which leads to design. My background is that as long as I could remember I was obsessed with visual beauty, and — because of my struggle in school to understand traditional education — creative outlets were my outlet.
I constantly dream, which leads to design
Q: You’re an avid collector of African art. What draws you to it, and how do you think it intersects with your art?
For me and I think — like most people who love African art — it comes from a place of dreams and fantasy. When I see African artifacts new or old it brings me into my own little short film of what I believe it all represents.
African art comes from a place of dreams and fantasy
Q: Who’s your core customer, and how do they find you?
Our core customer is extremely rich, and they find each other, either by chance, or by press, and some word of mouth. Most of our clients don’t like to share us. At any given day you can find a hip hop mogul or Prince Charles.
our clients don’t like to share us
Q: You have such a variety of looks. What’s your creative process?
I get this a lot.
It’s interesting, because for me it’s all the same look, just different moods. I don’t ever want to be put in a “design box,” because I don’t believe people who love beautiful things want to be put in a box.
I get on an idea of something beautiful and something rock n’ roll and I just pursue it until it’s perfect. I feel most designers today, because of corporate demands, have to stick to a common-person point of view: something that you can say, from miles away, “that’s Gucci” or “that’s Louis Vuitton.”
This is not design to me: that is purely branding.
We are a brand, and the brand is that we won’t sacrifice beauty, art, quality, and design to only assure notoriety and recognition.
we won’t sacrifice beauty, art, quality, and design
My goal, when someone buys something, is for someone to feel like they have on something beautiful: something more than just a brand or an article of clothing.
A shirt is just a shirt unless it is a Jay Kos shirt: then it’s art that you can wear. That’s not exclusive to our brand, but it is what we produce
it’s art that you can wear